There is a saying:
“Choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”
While the originator of this quote is up for debate (I’ve read that it came from Mark Twain, Confucious, and even Marc Anthony), the meaning behind it is profound. Profound and — well — harder than it seems.
First of all — How many people know with certainty what job is truly going to make them happy?
And if they do, how many are actually doing it?
I have been pondering that a lot lately. I know that WRITING and exploring CREATIVITY is what I want to do full-time. That IS where my passion lies. And honestly, while I do a lot of writing with my job, I have been debating the future of my writing career path.
But, let me take it back a step. I did not always know that writing was where my heart was (even though it was always something I always just did). I didn’t always know what I wanted to do “when I grew up.”
And honestly, I think most people don’t JUST KNOW . . . at least not right away.
There are probably a lot of people working in a job that they like — and they are probably really, really successful at it. BUT, it is not where their passion lies.
You may be in a stage in your life where you are questioning your life’s mission. You may be a recent college graduate trying to figure out your vocational direction. You may even be someone working in a job that you do not enjoy and are contemplating switching career paths. Regardless of where you are in your life, I DO believe it is important to know what brings you joy. After all, life is so much more enjoyable when you are – well – enJOYing it.
And while I won’t address HOW TO MAKE THAT PASSION HAPPEN (not yet, at least), I will share some WAYS that will help you determine what brings you the most happiness and what might be your professional calling.
So let’s get started on the figuring it out part.
I will start off with a simple question: What did you “play” as a child? Did you put on plays or enjoy dancing? Did you perform scientific experiments or build things with legos or blocks? Maybe you had your own detective agency or spent a lot of time drawing pictures.
Why am I asking you this? Because I believe that children naturally gravitate to the things that they enjoy. No one tells them to create fashion designs on a sketch pad, do puzzles, or pretend to be a secret agent. Children just instinctively KNOW what they like and are good at doing. I think what generally happens is this pureness of play becomes warped by influence. Somewhere between adolescent play and a chosen career path, people become affected by opinions, perceptions, and often misconceptions. Career choices become about money, availability, prestige, or even what their parents encouraged them to do. The instinctual bliss of play becomes lost.
I am not saying (to use this as an example) that if you pretended to be a ballerina that you should have become a ballerina (not necessarily). What I will ask is this (again, this is an example): do you still enjoy dancing, exercising, or activities that are physical in nature? If so, is there a way to incorporate this into your life?
Another key indicator for finding your passion is examining the extracurricular activities you did in high school and college. Did you take on leadership roles and, if so, did you like being in charge? Were you involved in student activities and/or planning events? Even if you know full well that you have no intention of being — let’s say — the next President of the Student Council (which translated to “adult roles” might mean taking on a political role), ask yourself: Why was I involved in this activity? Was it for the social aspect or did it bring me joy somehow?
Another tip for demystifying the passion mystery (again, this is for you to figure out…what I am writing are prompts to help you): What were some of your early-jobs and volunteer work? I am not saying that if you were a life guard in high school, you were supposed to be the next David Hasselhoff (think Bay Watch).
What I am having you examine is the aspects of the job that you enjoyed most. Think carefully–what did you enjoy most about this work experience? Is there a way to continue those enjoyable aspects? As for the things you really hated about the job? Well, they are important to note as well. The things you dreaded about your earlier job(s) are things that you should eliminate today. Hopefully, those earlier dreaded tasks are not a main component of your current job.
Personality Tests. There is a reason that human resource experts still utilize the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) exam when hiring. These tests are very accurate in pin-pointing the value system, personality traits, and decision-making styles of individuals. Taking a credible personality exam can help you determine the type of job or hobby that suits your personality type. It will provide added insight into what may be enjoyable (and what may be agonizing) to you.
I hope that these questions provided a lot of food for thought. With that said, I also wanted to debunk some myths that often prevent people from pursuing their JOYS and passions.
MYTH 1: You cannot make a living doing what you love.
The answer is a definitive “Heck no! Yes, you can!” I truly believe that you can do whatever you want if you work hard enough and believe that you can. Even if it is a side job that brings you pleasure or a full-time job that entails aspects of what you love (with not-so-pleasurable aspects mixed in), you can find a way to incorporate your passion once you determine what it is. After all, you cannot get what you want if you do not know what you want. And knowing what you enjoy will allow you to — not only pursue it — but be more motivated to do so.
MYTH 2: You will ALWAYS enjoy your passionate job or hobby 24/7.
What do you really think? If truth be told, nothing is pure bliss and happiness all the time–not to sound like Debbie Downer. What I am saying is that there WILL be times when things get hard and uncomfortable. Those times are learning opportunities and a part of life. When those difficult challenges arise, know that they are — as my grandmother used to say — only temporary and (this too) will pass.” Look at the OVERALL experience and know that you are doing what brings you fulfillment. You are learning from the day to day.
MYTH 3: Even if you figure out what you should be doing, it is too late to change directions.
I have been listening to a CD by Julia Cameron titled, The Author’s Way. In the segment, she discusses excuses people make on why they don’t pursue their artistic dreams. For example, Excuse #1: I’m too old!
She had one person tell her: “You know how OLD I will be if I start learning to play the piano?”
And her answer? It’s a gem. Wait for it . . . (Ha, ha. This totally made me laugh out loud.)
“Yes, I do. You will be the SAME age you’ll be if you DON’T start learning to play the piano?”
Moral of the story: It is never too late. Stop making excuses and get started!
(Ha, Ha — I think that means ME TOO! — I did say that I have been doing a lot of soul-searching.)
I used the photo (above) of a older gentleman playing the piano. I am proud to say that my father started playing the piano in his 60s. Seriously. He had played the piano when he was a child (um, as-a-child – cough, cough – see how I came full circle?), but his father’s Navy career and having to move every year or two prevented him from continuing the piano. After a discussion between my parents of “what would you like to do if you could,” my mother answered my father’s wish of “play the piano” by indulging him with lessons. Since then, he has been a serious and devoted piano player. Playing the piano is his passion—and it only took him 60+ years to figure it out.